Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller says he has no problem with new Governor Kim Reynolds designating an “acting lieutenant governor.”
Miller, a Democrat, released an opinion earlier this month that the state constitution does not give Reynolds, a Republican, the authority to name a new lieutenant governor after she became governor.
“You know I am pleased that Governor Kim Reynolds has taken action today that would not alter the secession provision,” Miller says, “That is the fundamental question, that is the Constitutional question, and she has complied with our opinion fully in that regard.”
Reynolds announced today that she is designating Adam Gregg as Acting Lieutenant Governor. Miller says the position of Acting Lieutenant Governor is not in the Constitution, but Reynolds has the right to create the position.
“First of all in looking at that, she could designate anybody she wanted to do the duties that she has describe for the acting lieutenant governor, to act on her behalf. A governor had great authority to have people play roles on her behalf. Indeed has to delegate a great deal anyway to function as governor — there are so many responsibilities,” according to Miller.
He says he will look a little more into the acting lieutenant governor position. “But, I hasten to emphasize, that the key fundamental here is who succeeds to be governor,” Millers says. “And she’s complied fully with our opinion and we believe the provision in the Constitution that deals with that.” The President of the Iowa Senate, not Gregg, would succeed Reynolds as governor.
Miller was asked if the acting lieutenant governor can be paid the same salary as Reynolds was as lieutenant governor. “You know, I think if there is some money in the budget, that probably could be paid for his salary — we can take a look at that. There are a lot of ways in state government that people can be paid for their work,” Miller says.
Miller’s opinion created a controversy because it reversed the first statement he gave on the issue, which said that Reynolds could appoint her own replacement. Many Republicans, including the chair of the Republican party, accused Miller of playing politics and trying to create chaos for the new governor by changing what he first said about the issue.
“He couldn’t be farther from the truth. I approached this opinion like I did any other opinion to try and get it right on the law. Struggled with it, worked on it, changed my mind for what I thought was adequate reason,” Miller says. “Indeed I was the one in the office that was on the other side of this opinion for quite a while. It was me the elected official that needed to be convinced.”
Governor Reynolds’ deputy chief of staff Tim Albrecth stuck to the theme that politics was involved in the decision this morning in a briefing with reporters.
“When they go small and petty, the Kim Reynolds Administration goes big and steady,” Albrecht said. Reynolds became governor yesterday after Governor Terry Branstad resigned to become the Ambassador to China.
Audio: Millers news conference. 15:00